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June/July 2008

Atlanta Traditions
Tried-And-True Dining Favorites
by Deb North

 Housed in an authentic antebellum home, Anthony’s offers an experience that  is truly Old South.

While Metro Atlanta’s dining scene is ever-changing—with new restaurants opening and older ones closing—there are some that have transcended time, remaining in business for more than 25 years. What they have in common besides longevity is character, hospitality and, of course, consistently good food. And new residents certainly shouldn’t wait very long to try these tried-and-true establishments, each with its own special imprint on a vibrant dining scene. Here’s a look at some of the restaurants that are, quite simply, Atlanta traditions.

Anthony’s Fine Dining

The halls of Anthony’s are rich with a 200-year-old history. In 1967, the authentic antebellum home with 12 elegant and private dining rooms was moved from Washington, Ga., to a three-acre wooded spread in Atlanta’s elite Buckhead neighborhood. The ambience of Anthony’s is truly Old South, with an interior that features gently threaded tapestries, original paintings and sparkling chandeliers. With a food-first attitude, the restaurant has kept the same formula and a very similar menu that has worked for 41 years, according to Asif Edrish, marketing, food and beverage director. Chateaubriand for two is a “tried-and-true classic that you rarely find on menus anymore,” he says. Following tradition, the tenderloin, served with béarnaise and burgundy sauces, is carved tableside. Bananas Foster, a New Orleans classic, also is flambéed in front of the diner for wow-factor.

Manuel’s Tavern

Regulars are vital to Manuel’s Tavern, which has served Atlanta’s Virginia Highland neighborhood for 52 years. Named after Manuel Maloof, who has since passed, the place started out as Harry’s Delicatessen, “a quiet sandwich and beer joint,” and was converted into a neighborhood watering hole reminiscent of the country taverns Manuel had visited while stationed in England during World War II. Brian Maloof, son and owner, says, “We make the effort to really get to know our customers on a personal basis.” Indeed, the staff treats visitors like family and friends. Maloof says a lot of Northerners like the place because it reminds them of home. Maybe it’s the “Dogzilla”—a 1/3 lb. all-beef monster hot dog with fries; or the “GrandBobby’s” pork chop sandwich; or the house specialty Manny’s ribs. Then again, the tavern boasts an atmosphere that makes everyone feel welcome.


Murphy’s is situated in the trendy north Virginia Highland neighborhood, where owner Tom Murphy set up shop with his family 27 years ago. What started as a cheese-and-wine store grew into the true neighborhood restaurant that it is today. “A lot of customers have made a personal connection with the restaurant, watching it grow up in front of them,” says Marcus Marshall, general manager. The now restaurant/bakery-and-wine shop invites you into a rustic but comfortable space with French café doors and modern interior. Chef Gregg McCarthy sources local flavors like North Georgia’s Enchanted Springs rainbow trout with wild rice and smoky bacon jus, and Georgia white shrimp, 10-spice seared with crisp grit cake and green tomato salsa. The Guinnessbraised beef brisket is delectable. The lunch menu boasts terrific burgers and a Waldorf chicken salad sandwich, served on fresh bakery breads.

For 35 years, the Pleasant Peasant has served bistro-style fare
in a chic-sophisticated space.

Pittypat’s Porch

Pittypat’s Porch was named after Scarlett O’Hara’s aunt in the famed classic Gone With the Wind. Aunt Pittypat was known as a gracious hostess, and the tradition has lived on for 40 years at Pittypat’s Porch: “Our restaurant is a representation of Southern hospitality,” says Deb Thomson, co-owner with her husband Guy. At downtown’s oldest dining venue, what awaits is a charming rocking chair lounge and Southern plantation cuisine headed up by a third-generation chef, and kitchen and dining room employees who have been there since the beginning. Old-fashioned drinks (think mint julep), homemade breads, and desserts such as peach cobbler and bread pudding anchor a solid entrée menu rich in Southern culture, with offerings such as fried chicken, barbecue ribs, and black-eyed pea cakes that are paired wonderfully with peach salsa.

Pleasant Peasant

Thirty-five years and still cooking, the Pleasant Peasant is a landmark in Atlanta’s funky Midtown area, serving eclectic French and American bistro-style food. The space in this turn-of-the-century building is chic-sophisticated with exposed brick walls and white linen tables that conspire to create a quaint atmosphere. The food, the service and the inviting atmosphere are what make the restaurant tick, according to Maureen Kalmanson, co-owner with Pam Furr. A favorite starter is comforting French onion soup, while standout entrees include plum pork tenderloin medallions with mashed potatoes, green beans and a sweet/savory plum sauce, as well as macadamia nut half duckling with lime glaze, mashed potatoes and vegetables. A must-try item on the Sunday brunch menu is the eggs Benedict, served either “peasant” style with beef tenderloin or with crab cakes.

Swan Coach House Restaurant at Atlanta History Center

The Swan Coach House has long been one of the
places in Atlanta to lunch, shop and browse for art.
“Since 1965, the Swan Coach House has been an Atlanta tradition for lovely lunches in the restaurant, shopping for gifts, and browsing in the art gallery for works by Georgia and regional artists,” says Susan Tucker, publicity chair of Forward Arts Foundation. The restaurant/gift shop/art gallery concept was founded by 12 dedicated patronesses of the arts in Atlanta, one of whom was Anne Cox Chambers, the first president of the Forward Arts Foundation, which today manages and operates the Swan Coach House. For lunch service only, perennial favorites include the signature chicken salad served in delicate timbales with frozen fruit salad and cheese straws, as well as delicious salmon croquettes, chicken curry and shrimp salad. “Everyone adores the homemade vegetable soup, too,” says Tucker. Bonus: All proceeds from Swan Coach House benefit visual arts programs in the Atlanta area.

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